The 19-year-old was calmness personified in the heart of Arsenal's defence against Besiktas on Tuesday night as the Gunners went in search of a vital victory in IstanbulCalum Chambers started Arsenal’s Champions League play-off first leg clash with Besiktas on Tuesday as he partnered Laurent Koscielny in central defence.
And the teenager turned in a remarkably assured performance against the Turkish outfit as the Gunners looked to take the first steps towards sealing a spot in the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition.
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST BESIKTAS|
Just 19, many raised their eyebrows when Arsene Wenger agreed to pay Southampton £16 million to acquire Chambers earlier this summer, yet he proved his worth with a superb display against the Turkish side.
Paired with the battle-hardened Laurent Koscielny in central defence, Chambers showed his composure in the tackle and his calmness on the ball throughout the 90 minutes as he both broke up Besiktas attacks and started Arsenal transitions.
Though there were a few slight blips - the majority of which were covered by his defensive partners - Chambers handled Demba Ba well and largely managed to limit the former Chelsea striker’s significant goal threat.
He will face better strikers this season but, with a marquee clash with Everton looming large, Chambers has done his chances of earning a permanent spot on Wenger's team sheet no harm with a fine display in Istanbul - particularly in the continued absence of Per Mertesacker.
It is difficult to pick one moment from a performance of such class, given that Chambers is merely 19 and this was his first taste of Champions League football. Though sometimes beaten by Ba on the floor, Chambers exuded an air of calm throughout the 90 minutes and never looked ill at ease in such a vital match.
His ability at bringing the ball out of defence will have impressed Arsene Wenger - it was likely a key reason he was signed ahead of more experienced options - and when he was in possession, he distributed the ball well.
Few 19-year-old’s handle the biggest stage with the kind of calm Chambers did on Tuesday and he can be proud of his display.
Despite such an assured performance, the centre-back almost gifted Besiktas a precious first-leg lead in the dying stages of the first half, as he slipped under a high ball and allowed Ba to skip through on goal.
Ba, no stranger to capitalising on uncharacteristic errors - see Steven Gerrard’s now infamous slip at Anfield - could not find the back of the net, however, and instead rolled the ball wide.
Chambers appeared visibly relieved, perhaps knowing that, had Ba scored, a near-faultless performance would have been sullied by a schoolboy error.
|WILL HE FEATURE AGAINST EVERTON?|
With Mertesacker edging ever nearer to full fitness there is an argument that Chambers will be rested against the Toffees, with £28 million summer signing Romelu Lukaku set to lead the line for Roberto Martinez’s men this weekend.
It is worth remembering, however, that Mertesacker played as Arsenal were beaten 3-0 at Goodison Park last season and Chambers proved on Tuesday night that such a fixture would not faze him.
Though Lukaku offers a somewhat different threat to that of Ba, Chambers will not fear the Belgium international and offers an intriguing option to Wenger.
Also, the 19-year-old is adept at bringing the ball out of defence and kick-starting attacks, something which may stand him in good stead against a counter-attacking Everton side.